Columbus Gaming Group

Barakus Campaign

Session #6 Log

October 11th, 2004

GM: Jim Dugger

Players: Mark Daymude (Mitsu the Monk)
Chris Kludy (Ventros, Priest of St. Cuthbert)
Rachel Sandrock (Anya the Elven Wizard, Bull the half-orc Barbarian)
Jim Davenport (Dibly the Rogue, Log Writer)
Mike Steiner (Bull the half-orc Barbarian)


"I use a rapier. See... . See! No damage!" -- Dibly to Bull.
"But let me stand on the other side of you, and you’re dead," added Mitsu to Bull.
"Poplin. Lin... linen. Pop... an explosion of goodness." -- Mike
"Nothing pisses me off like the sound of impending owlbears." -- Chris?

June 13, 2265 Old Empire

Long after the Scarlet Bard had staggered his way home to his wife and grandchildren, Dibly sat in the bar with Ventros. The priest had been quite an enigma to Dibly, but as long as the ale stein stayed full, this man of the cloth was quite amiable.

"Ventros, can I ask you a question?"

"Yes," replied the priest before dunking his hearthbread into his mug. "What troubles you?"

"There was a priest in my village and he was a good man; selfless, always helping others out and teaching us to revere all the gods. He would tell us tales of heroes who fought evil."

"Sounds like an all right chap. What's your point?"

"What do you believe in, Ventros?"

"Dibly, I am a servant of Saint Cuthbert. His wisdom has shown that what this world needs is some righteous judgment and a healthy dose of retribution to the side of the head. I am simply the instrument of his will."

"So you fight in the struggle of good against evil?"

"There are certain laws and truths in the world, as set down by the Saint. The good tend to follow these laws and obey these truths more than evil, so I rarely have to knock a good person back in line," he mused. "although I will. Evil by its nature defies these laws and must be brought low."

"What did you think of the tombs that we explored?"

"They seemed like old tombs. I did not feel blessings or reverence in that place. Those whom they worshipped faded long ago."

"So you would not consider it a holy site?"

"Not particularly. More like a ruin," answered Ventros. He peered at the young rogue, pondering on what the man was thinking.

A few minutes passed as they watched the fire burn down in the tavern common room.

"So do you believe that we could retrieve the wealth and magic from the tombs for our own fight without offending the gods?"

"If there are creatures in those tombs befouling the peaceful dead, then we have the right to vanquish them to put things as they should be. It is also just for us to be rewarded for this task, by the dead themselves if necessary."

Dibly frowned, thinking that the village priest probably would not have said it that way, but a man of the cloth was not to be ignored. Dibly nodded his agreement and they returned to drinking ale in earnest and pondering on how they were going to tackle the tombs again.

The next day they met once again at the King’s Road Tavern. They needed to decide what to do next.

"Our explorations have been difficult and dangerous. I’m not sure we can really handle these ruins," began Mitsu. "These creatures are foul and some appear supernaturally difficult to kill. My own disciplines have been only partially effective."

"So it has been a challenge. What else is worth living for? Would you rather die in your soft bed than the field of battle?" barked Bull. His own experiences in battle were giving him a foul mood.

Dibly thought about Bull’s question and realized that he hoped to gain riches and glory, and then die in a soft bed, hopefully beneath a naked woman, but he didn’t think this would help the conversation so he held his tongue.

"I think we need to bring more magic into play. Anya’s spells have been quite effective, but there is plenty of magic even in Endhome that we could take advantage of," suggested Mitsu. "Enchantments for our weapons, our armor. Ensorcelments for deception or magic fire. Blessings and magics for healing our wounds and the cursed diseases these rotting fiends impart."

"But they are not free," replied Anya, stating the obvious. "We have not gathered much wealth in our many trips to the wilds and ruins. I do not think the spell-hawkers will give us such enchanted items due to our good looks."

Dibly spoke up. "I think we should return to the tombs and gather up the treasures there. We saw much wealth and even some things they may have been enchanted. You know, the ones that looked shiny and clean while all else was covered in rust, dust, and the grime of age."

"I thought you were against robbing the dead, Dibly. You convinced us to leave those treasures alone the first time we were in the tombs," said Bull frowning.

"I have given it much thought and spoken in confidence with Ventros. The tombs are old and our priest believes that we would not be desecrating them should we gather the treasures. I am willing to go along with that assessment."

The table became quiet for a few minutes as people ate their dinners and considered the suggestion.

"There is a lot we could do with the treasures..." mumbled Bull.

"We’d be helping restore the dignity of the tombs by clearing out the infestations of evil that have befallen it," added Mitsu.

"Then we are agreed. Let us prepare for our next adventure," said Dibly. "Mitsu, gather us food and supplies for ten days. Ventros and Anya, scribe some scrolls for spells we will need often. That should make it easier for you to choose your spells each day. Bull, you and I will make some stops in town and see if there are any new rumors. Sound good?"

Everyone agreed and sealed it with a toast using Bull’s huge stone stein of ale, Anya’s delicate goblet of wine, Dibly’s copper cup, Mitsu’s wooden goblet, and Ventros’s pewter cup.

Early the following morning (June 14), the party saddled up and headed north at a quick pace, cutting the ground-hugging mists as the sun began to peak over the Eastern Sea. They were watched by the stablehands of the King’s Road and the wall sentries of Endhome. They were also watched by another, in the shadows.

Unusually, the ride north was quiet. Their camps were unmolested and they were not challenged while riding. Perhaps the presence of the large horse scared away the more cowardly scavengers. Luckily they had not yet attracted predators looking for a meal.

The morning they approached the tomb was overcast and drizzling. The mounts’ breath steamed in the unseasonable chill and conversation was limited. Their rule of having cold camps was an irritation but they did not dare lighting large fires in such hostile lands. The warmth and comfort did little when the fire was acting like beacon in the night.

Even in the foul weather, they found the tombs again easily. It appeared little different although the hobgoblins may have been in and out since their last visit, based on tracks not yet obscured by the rain.

They secured their horses in a hidden copse of trees not too far from the tombs entrance. Each was secured to a tree, although loosely enough that they could bolt if threatened by predators.

Dibly led the way into the narrow tomb entrance, his sight aided by a Darkvision enchantment from one of Anya’s scrolls. It was much easier to see the way and watch for traps the hobgoblins may have sent since their last visit. Finding none, they moved into the first level of the tomb.

A quick survey of the level and observation of the lower terraces that they could see revealed no monsters waiting in the dark. And so the tedious effort of searching the hundreds of tombs began. Dibly and Bull worked as one team and Anya and Ventros worked as the other. Mitsu kept watch on the stairs and stayed ready to run to the aid of either team, should the need arise.

After a few hours of searching and finding bits of wealth, Dibly and Bull broke open a crypt and disturbed a nest of large rats. The rats appeared sorely pissed and snapped and clawed at Dibly and Bull. They also skittered quickly, making them difficult to hit.

After a few moments of this, Bull got a good swing in and sliced two in half with a single stroke of his axe.

"Well done!" shouted Dibly, though he celebration distracted him a moment and another rat slipped in to deliver a vicious bite to his leg, sneaking under his leather shin-guard.

"Curses!" cried Dibly from the painful wound, as he flailed his rapier at the vermin without effect. He glanced over to Bull but found the terrace beside him empty. Over the edge, below them he could hear a string of orcish and human curses that would curdle milk at 50 yards.

The commotion had alerted Mitsu and he came quickly to help. Between the two of them, the last three rats were slain, though Dibly was bit again. They quickly looked over the edge and saw that Bull had fallen two levels down, only barely catching the ledge of the fourth terrace. As they watched, he pulled himself up and began trotting back up to the first terrace.

Dibly felt the familiar dull ache in the rat bites, but after talking to Ventros, they decided to wait and see if the familiar white puss and firey skin developed, telltale signs of something worse from the disease-ridden creatures.

The searching continued for a few hours before Anya and Ventros began to explore one of the floor’s four mausoleums. They spotted a quiver of crossbow bolts glimmering green with enchantment, but in their eagerness, were surprised by skeletons which came to life out of piles of dust and bones.

Anya reacted first. "Magus Defendum!" she cried and a blueish gleam washed over her.

"You are an abomination in the eyes of Saint Cuthbert! Flee or Perish!" shouted Ventros in a commanding voice, his holy symbol thrust in front of him. With bursts of light all four skeletons crumbled to dust.

"Your Saint is quite effective," commented Anya with typical elvish dryness.

A short time later, Anya and Ventros opened another of the terrace’s four mausoleums. At first it looked empty of threats, but a glance upward showed the ceiling covered in thick spider webs. Red fire flickered on Anya’s fingertips as she looked around for the monster that made them. Ventros kept his mace ready.

Moving with startling speed, the spider appeared to defend its layer. Anya let fly with two fist-sized balls of fire which burned the spider’s thick, oily black hairs. Ventros followed with a solid hit with his mace, making the creature squeal in pain.

But the spider was made of tougher stuff. Its legs flailed at Ventros, causing him to raise his arms to protect his face. It then leapt on him and sank its fangs into his forearm.

Another pair of magical fire balls from Anya and the creature expired, a smouldering broken abomination. Ventros looked to his wound as Anya knelt to look at the spider. She had never seen one this large and she guessed it must have weighed at least three stone. Its fangs still dripped with venom and they appeared as hard and sharp as a steel sword.

When they finally selected a mausoleum to hole up for the night, they looked over what they’d been able to find. The pile included quite a few coins, the emerald crossbow bolts, scrolls, an amulet, a cloak, potions, a fine wooden shield, and a ring.

The cloak was finely made with a subtle web design woven into the black cloth in silver thread. Mitsu donned the cloak after Anya was able to discern it as a Spider’s Cloak. With it, he was able to climb as the spiders could and even create webs much the same as Anya’s web spell.

The next day, the searching was almost becoming routine. They found it difficult to keep their wariness up consistently. Perhaps this monotony was the reason that Bull and Dibly were ambushed in a mausoleum on the second floor.

Before they saw anything, some kind of man had leapt at Bull and narrowly missed slamming him into the floor. Dibly reacted quickly and tumbled past the thing, coming up with a rapier thrust that sunk deep in its side.

For a brief moment he could see the creature in its entirety. It appeared to be a man, or, at least, it was once a man. It wore the rags of what were once clothes, though they were barely worth keeping on his body. His hair was thin and matted. The hands ended in fingernails that were more like claws. When it glanced at Dibly, he saw fangs in its blood red mouth and eyes that burned like a cat’s.

Bull recovered and chopped the monster in the thigh with his axe. Quickly, Dibly struck again, slashing a gaping wound with his rapier. Almost as if annoyed, the creature slashed one hand and Bull, leaving four bleeding cuts across his neck.

"Ruttin’ gark!" spat Bull.

Ventros appeared in the doorway to the battle scene and thrust his holy symbol before him. Even before he could invoke the words of his god, the creature growled at him and became mist. Bull’s axe swung through the mist a moment later, but the creature was no longer there. In moments even the mist had disappeared.

"What the hell was that?" said Dibly quietly.

"I don’t know but it didn’t want to face the power of St. Cuthbert, so it was smart," concluded Ventros as he sniffed where the mist had been.

"I don’t like this place... let’s leave this one alone,"scowled Bull. The others quickly agreed and they walked back out of the room.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the floor, Mitsu had been looking at some of the inscriptions on the wall tombs. After brushing away webs and dust from one, he was blinded a moment by a flash of light.

When he blinked the glow away he was standing next to a strange creature in solemn robes. No man’s face greeted the monk but the face of a dog. The creature bowed very slightly and then opened its mouth. Mitsu kept his stance wary and flexed his hands, though he didn’t feel an immediate threat yet.

"What are you doing to this crypt?" asked the dogman with stilted and harsh speech.

"Searching for the Lost City," replied Mitsu honestly.

"You mean Barakus? This is its tomb, but not the city."

"We understand. We are still searching for clues. We seek to understand the city well."

The dogman cocked its head a moment before speaking again.

"I guard this crupt."

Mitsu nods. He looks down the terrace but the others of his party are no where nearby. "Who lies in this tomb that you guard?"

"Benaphar the Bold, greatest among the great and humble in his generosity."

Mitsu grabs a piece of chalk and makes an X next to the tomb. "We will not disturb this tomb."

The dogman nodded and bowed deeply before fading away.

Late in the day of exploration, Anya and Ventros broke into the last mausoleum while the others waited nearby. They were amazed yet again at finding a strange and horrible creature waiting inside.

The creature was huge, taking up much of the room and its smell caused them to begin choking immediately. It looked like a massive pile of refuse, shit and rotting garbage pulsating in the darkness.

Their coughing roused it and it began to shift. Arms appeared from the mass, flying up like the tentacles of a great squid.

"Cursed beast," bit Anya as she hurls balls of fire into its body. Burning, it smelled worse.

Bull pushed close to the beast and took both hands to bring his axe down. It bit deep, disappearing underneath the skin of the creature. Bull was showered with foul blood and bile. Ventros followed him, pushing past the tentacles, exchanging blows with the monster.

Mitsu dropped and tumbled under the reaching tentacles, but coming up he slipped on the bile and his fist missed.

The monster eagerly wrapped Ventros in two tentacles, raking him with a thousand tiny spines inside the grip. Ventros gagged and choked as a wave of stench washed over him.

As they had been preparing in sparring, Dibly tumbled across the creature from Mitsu and came up thrusting his rapier. The blade slid harmlessly across the monster’s slick skin.

Anya hurled two more balls of fire at their foe and this time they struck in the wounds Bull had made. Immediately the creature convulsed and the tentacles let Ventros go. A deep scraping sound came from deep within it before it fell completely limp.

"What an amazing smell you’ve discovered!" joked Mitsu as he passed Bull who was still standing in the mass of rotting meat.

With that, they were finished with the second level. They used some of their water to wash Bull down and made a tired camp in one of the uninfested mausoleums.

Again, they relaxed by reviewing what things they’d uncovered in the crypts and tombs. An old canvas belt had been opened to reveal four slender vials, each etched with magic writing. Another scroll made Anya smile. Ventros abandoned his new wooden shield for an even finer looking steel shield. Anya picked up a heavy longbow that looked like had just been fashioned in the elven woods in the east.

Another bag of coins and gems was added to their booty as well as a pair of thin leather gloves. Dibly slipped them on.

They also examined Dibly rat bites and they looked worse than the day before. He took a drink from their healing potion for diseases and by morning the wounds had calmed down and were closing up.

It was hard to tell if the next morning was morning or not, but they roused themselves, ate more cold food and prepared for the next level of looting. They'd not even cleared the stairwell to the third level when a stone statue came alive and attacked them.

Dibly was stunned to see wings spread from its back. It was a gargoyle just like the ones ringing the Wizard's Academy. They were real! Mitsu had been in the lead and it struck him with great swiftness, its claws cutting his shirt and drawing some blood. By instinct, the monk struck back but his strike flew wide past the wiley enemy.

Anya quickly began her most effective attack, letting fly with two fists of magic which swirled through the air before bursting on the creature's chest. It barely took notice as it grabbed Mitsu's shoulder in its fanged mouth and bit down hard. He let out a yell and pulled away, stumbling past the rest of the party. He drew his spider cloak about him and climbed down the side of the terrace edge, out of immediate reach.

Later Mitsu confessed that he felt he was a dead man as soon as the gargoyle took to the air after him, but, for no good reason he could see, it did not.

Bull, Ventros, and Dibly rushed forward to meet the monster. Anya let more magic fire fly. The creature leapt at Ventros though it was mostly blocked by his shield. While the creature was distracted, Mitsu brought out a healing potion and drained it quickly. Within moments he felt the bruising and rent shoulder healing beneath his shirt.

Bull, in a manner not seen before from him and his wild background, approached the creature slowly and with caution. He subsequently missed by a league. Ventros and Dibly struck the creature, though it was hard to pierce its stone-like skin.

Fearing that she would need to enter melee, Anya brought the blue glow around herself, armoring her body from weapons and the beast. The gargoyle backhanded Bull, its skin scraping against his chain shirt.

Emboldened and healed, Mitsu returned from over the edge and downed another potion as he approached the battle. Bull continued to struggle with the foul thing, its wings flying around it, forcing him to fend off their tips instead of strike true. Ventros and Dibly again both struck it, rending its flesh and watching grey blood flow.

Abandoning her magical profession, Anya leapt into the fray and smote the gargoyle with her sword, leaving a large gash in its wing. Emitting a grating scream, it clawed at Bull once again, pushing him back and scratching him again.

Mitsu and Bull moved into close quarters and began to fight in tandem. They soon landed dangerous blows, forcing the gargoyle to retreat to a corner, cutting it off from escape in the open air. Ventros and Dibly was left as second rank fighters and neither could quite reach it now.

Bleeding from many wounds, the creature lunged at Bull, to kill, and perhaps escape beyond him. It drew Bull's blood again, but before it could claw past him, Mitsu struck it with a blinding series of precise punches. It slid dead to the ground.

The third level seemed more dangerous than the previous ones. In the other two battles of the day, they were beset by more ghouls and then a hideous monster Anya called an Owl-Bear. The ghouls paralyzed Dibly and Bull and were about to feast on their flesh when the rest of the party came to the rescue.

When all was done, the party gladly agreed to leave the tombs and return to Endhome. They wanted to rest as well as use their new treasures to become better arms and prepared to return.